Wednesday, March 21, 2007

South Africa - 21 March 1960

Police kill 69 people during the Sharpeville Massacre

A breakaway group from the African National Congress (ANC) formed the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The ANC and PAC ideologies differed on the issue of European multiracialism. The PAC, who believed in the concept of Africa for the Africans and in the total eradication of colonialism and imperialism, decided to embark on an anti-pass passive resistance campaign.

The ANC had planned a similar demonstrative campaign against the pass laws due to start on 31 March 1960. The PAC rushed ahead and announced the beginning of their campaign to start ten days earlier. On 21 March 1960 the PAC led a group of protesters to the local police station in Sharpeville, near Vereeniging, to hand over their passes in defiance of the pass laws. However, the march ended in tragedy when the police opened fire on the marchers, killing 69 people and injuring 180 others, in what has come to be known as the Sharpeville massacre.

21 March, called Human Rights Day, is a public holiday in South Africa since 1994 to comemmorate this important event in history. Click here for more information.

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